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License plates and corruption

When a citizen questions public servants for corruption acts, it's necessary to ask if, individually, that citizen is fulfilling its civic duties, such as tax payment
Electricity bill - Photo by Ariel Ojeda/EL UNIVERSAL
30/08/2017
09:00
Mexico City
Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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The survival of a State – ancient and current – depends on tax collection. It's the manner in which it can afford infrastructure, education, health and security expenses.

Nevertheless, Mexican society is not known for its strict compliance with tax payment. Studies from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on tax collection and its relation to the gross domestic product show that in 2015 Denmark had the highest ratio taxes-GDP (46.6%) of all the OECD member countries; on the contrary, Mexico has the lowest ratio (17.4%).

EL UNIVERSAL published yesterday a research by Mexicans against Corruption and Impunity which shows how Mexico City dealerships encourage buyers to register their vehicles outside Mexico City, in states such as Morelos, where vehicle taxes don't apply.

When a citizen questions public servants for corruption acts, it's necessary to ask if, individually, that citizen is fulfilling its civic duties, such as tax payment.

Probably, to the eyes of many, tax evasion is only an act of corruption when government officials and public servants do it. However, registering vehicles in Morelos instead of Mexico City proves there is a clear intention to avoid taxes – without mentioning the cynicism and arrogance of such a scam, in which citizens, businessmen, legislators and Supreme Court officials all participate.

Yet, registering vehicles in Morelos is not the only issue. Not paying for electricity bills and other public services – even littering – are other tax avoidance/evasion actions.

Who's imitating who? Are citizens imitating the government, or is the government imitating its citizens? When did Mexican society lose its values?

This is clearly a discussion that needs to be moved to the background because, first, we need to establish that integrity needs to go both ways: public administration needs to offer transparency in the use of public funds, and citizens need to comply with their obligations.

Yesterday, the former dean of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Juan Ramón de la Fuente, spoke about the need to transform the culture of the Mexican people so they can be fully intolerant to the culture of corruption.

Corruption is also found in the tiniest actions and they cannot go unnoticed. Big changes require that we denounce the smallest crimes; that's the way it has to be if we want to change our country.

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